Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Friday, 23 March 2012

Easter Ideas

Hello!  I can't begin to explain the craziness that is our life right now.  I'm still exercising with BodyRock (albeit it's only 3 times a week) and still combing Pinterest when I have a couple minutes to spare.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be able to post some pics of what we've done with our house because we're about to put it up for sale (one of the four things going on right now).  Remember the whole different carpet in every room thing when I posted about decorating the kids' rooms?  Well the rest of the house was just as bad.  But with some creative solutions and good choices we've been able to update it much more than I expected.

For now though I thought I'd share some great ideas I've found online or on Pinterest for Easter because it's only two and a bit weeks away.... yikes!

First, I'm obsessed with Subway Art.  When I post pics of our house, you'll see one I made for our living room that has important places and dates for our family.  Here are a couple cute Easter subway art printables.  Click on either image to go directly to the site where you can download them:

Source: Yeah, That's Macho & Tough
Source: Eighteen25

Monday, 13 February 2012

What is a 'good' parent?

I know this post is off-concept for my blog, but it's something that's been on my mind so I thought I'd share.

Last week I was fortunate to sit down and spend some time catching up with a friend who has twin girls who are exactly, and I mean born on the same day exactly, as Mason.  While they were playing we noticed a number of similarities in our parenting styles and had a brief discussion of what it means to be a good parent.

Then a couple days later I saw a video of a Dad who was reacting to a disrespectful post his daughter put on her Facebook wall.  At the end he took out a gun and shot her laptop.  I will say that it was the second time his daughter had done something like that, and I agree with consequences, but the way he dealt with it and the whole gun thing really didn't sit well with me.  The video has, of course, generated a ton of attention (feel free to read about it & view the video here)
The whole notion of how to be a good parent constantly rattles around my head.  I grew up with divorced parents who remarried and each had children in their second marriages.  I benefitted from this because I was able to experience different family dynamics and parenting styles and from these I've come up with some very specific ideas of what I do and do not want for my children mostly based on how I felt while I was growing up.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Last minute Valentine ideas

I just realized Valentine's day is on Tuesday.  I have Mason's class Valentines ready but I haven't thought about what to do for anyone at home!

I'm definitely going to create my own version of this card I saw on Pinterest for DH.   

source:  stylemepretty.com via Pinterest
I love the 'two halves make a whole' idea, but I'll use the red paper left over from my Superhero Valentines to create the half hearts and put them on a blank note card.  Then I'll write him a little love letter inside.  You could easily create something like this on your computer and then print it onto cardstock yourself.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Why I love being Thrifty

Over Christmas one of my brothers made the comment that I was 'thrifty'.  He meant it as a compliment because I do my best to find the best deal possible but it would be easy to take it the wrong way because there's often a stigma attached to people who seek out lower prices as  being cheap.   In my view there's a huge difference between being cheap (spending as little as possible and sacrificing quality to do so) and being thrifty.  Don't get me wrong, as you know I'm all for picking things up at the dollar store, especially when there's little to no difference in the quality of a product when you buy it for four times as much somewhere else OR when the quality itself makes little to no difference! 
If I really step back and look at why this is important to me, the most fundamental reason is because when my son was born I became a stay-at-home-mom who was completely dependent on DH to support us.  Out of respect for how hard he works to give us a beautiful life, I do my best to not waste the money he earns but I also don't want to feel like I can't buy something because I didn't earn the money myself.  From those two competing forces was born a deep-seated need to get things at the lowest prices possible.

At this point I'm completely addicted to being thrifty.  It's really like gambling in the sense that you sometimes stumble upon something that makes you feel like you hit the jackpot and then you want to keep searching for the next unbelievable find.

I'll give you a couple examples, in the last month (or so) I've picked up the following items.  Most of the pictures are close approximations to give you a visual and aren't the 'actual' ones I bought:

A black Hogan purse (retails $600-$1000) - I bought it for $35 at a consignment store.  Looks similar to this Chloe Heloise but it has a little less detail on the body of the bag:

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

BodyRockTV - 30 Day Challenge: Week 4... the verdict is in.

I'm completely sold on BodyRockTV.  It's an amazing way to add exercise to a busy day and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in getting in shape.  So... I'm going to share my before and after pics with you.  I'm doing it reluctantly, but I'm so impressed with the results after only four weeks that I think the pictures will tell a better story than anything I can write.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Superhero Valentines

In October on Pinterest I saw cute little Hallowe'en packages to hand out at school that looked like Frankenstein, vampires and monsters.  I wasn't able to make them in time for Mason so I thought Valentine's Day would be a perfect time to try my own version.

Superhero Valentine

Mason is in a class full of boys so the whole Valentine's thing in the traditional spirit simply won't work, so what better than wishing them a 'Super' valentine with a superhero-inspired package!

Monday, 30 January 2012

BodyRockTV - 30 Day Challenge: Week 3

Good morning!  We've completed week 3 and it was a beast.  I don't think A found it quite as difficult as I did, but as I'm writing this on Monday morning my inner thighs are STILL killing me from the workout on Thursday. 

I haven't done any measurements this week but everything feels tighter and stronger.  Plus, one night last week when we were putting Mason to bed, DH stopped and looked at me and said that I looked different... leaner.  I was shocked.  This is a man who doesn't notice if I have something in my teeth or mascara smeared on my face, so there must something happening for him to say it.

Monday, 23 January 2012

BodyRockTV - 30 Day Challenge: Week 2

To my competitive chagrin, A is pretty much kicking my butt with the workouts!She does more reps and needs to modify less often.  She's also seeing more results than me.  Last week she took her measurements and they were about half and inch smaller all around.... after only a week!  I can't wait to hear how much she's shrunk this week.

As of Sunday morning (2 weeks completed), I'm a half inch smaller around my bust, hip and thigh and an inch smaller around my waist.  If you're doing these workouts or are planning any workout program, I would highly recommend that you measure yourself.  You can't see a half inch difference but it's nice to know that there's something happening!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

The 1 Hour Tutu

We were invited to a Superhero & Princess party at the Boulevard club on Saturday.  Mason was VERY excited to have his Batman costume back that I made for Hallowe'en and then confiscated a couple days after (to keep it safe & in good condition!).

Avery was Robin for Hallowe'en and although I LOVE her costume, I thought it would be nice for her to be her own person this time rather than part of Mason's dynamic duo.

Princess Avery was pretty easy to put together, a pink bathing suit my mom picked up for her last year, a sweet faux fur shrug trimmed with satin that I found at Value Village, tights, her sparkly pink Tom's shoes that my sister-in-law to be got her for Christmas and a pink tutu. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

ECHOage - A great idea for making kids' birthdays more meaningful

This week I got an emailed invitation to a birthday party for one of Mason's classmates.  The email came via ECHOage, a website that was created by two moms who thought there was a better way to celebrate birthdays.

Here's what the site says about itself:

ECHOage is a online birthday party service where children learn the value of giving and receiving while celebrating. No matter what your child’s party theme or venue, you can easily ECHOage ANY party.
Step #1. Choose an invitation, select a cause and invite your guests.
Step #2. Guests RSVP and contribute [via online credit card payments] and you get to watch the giving grow on your ECHOage Tracker.
Step #3. When your party is over, you get half the funds in the mail from ECHOage to purchase any birthday gift you wish to have AND you donate the other half to a charity of your choice.
Easy on guests, meaningful for kids and fun for everyone!
There are lots of things I like about this idea.  First, it's super-environmentally friendly.  No invitations, no wrapping paper or toy packaging to throw away.  Second, as soon as I sent my RSVP and contributed to the party online I received a certificate for Mason via email thanking him for making a difference so I can explain, as well as I can to a 3 year old, that part of his present to Andreas is to help other people.  Third, a straight donation makes gift-giving easy and takes away the 'What should I get'? that I find plagues me every time I have to make the decision for a little person other than my own.  Lastly, and this is the most reason in my opinion, I throw birthdays for my kids to celebrate how special and important they are to me, not for them to get presents.  In fact, every invitation I've ever sent out requested 'Best Wishes Only' but we have unbelievably generous friends and family and they never come empty-handed.  Using ECHOage, we would be able to donate half of that generosity to a worthy cause and I love that, because I want birthdays to be about the celebration of the individual, not about what they get from people.

As for the other half of the contributions that are mailed to us, I think I would put it into a savings account either for university or to help my kids buy their first home.  But that's just me :)

Want to ECHOage your next birthday party, here's a link to their website.

Have a great weekend!

- Jacs

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Planning Avery's 2nd Birthday

If you'd told me last year that I would choose a Disney princess story as a theme for my little girl's 2nd birthday, I would have said there was no way!  But here I am, planning to do a Snow White birthday in May.  Yes, it's four months away.  Yes, I'm ridiculous.  But I've found that unless I start planning early it becomes overwhelming very quickly.

I'm not going to lie, part of the reason for Snow White is because the red, yellow & blue colour scheme is exactly the same as Mason's Superhero party last fall, and I'll be able to use up and repurpose a lot of the stuff I have left over that's taking up space in my cupboards and in my office. 

I'm definitely going to focus on the whole heart & apple thing from the movie.  I'll make caramel & chocolate covered apples as a party favour for everyone.  I found a great tutorial online for it and will try a couple different taste tests before I finalize things:


Monday, 16 January 2012

BodyRockTV - 30 Day Challenge: Week 1

In December I kept seeing images on Pinterest of ridiculously fit women watermarked with a bodyrock.tv logo.  When I clicked on a couple of these pins, the pinners' comments beneath the photos kept saying the site had quick but effective workouts. 

I know that when it comes to exercise you get out what you put in, but I also know that the workouts I was doing from my brother's site focused on quality rather than quantity and rarely took more than 30 minutes (....mind you, I told him anything more than 30 min probably wouldnt' happen so that may be why mine were short!).

As I mentioned in my first post of 2012, I completely fell off the fitness wagon last year and have been feeling pretty blob-ey.  Since my New Year's goal is to focus on doing things that make me feel happy with who I am, getting myself moving and strong again was at the top of my to do list.

Friday, 13 January 2012

(Re)decorating the kids' rooms: Mason's Room

Like Avery's room, Mason's is also a work in progress.  I (sadly) agreed to buy a toddler bed for him to transition him from his crib to a regular bed (my little boy is growing up) near the end of November and that precipitated a number changes to his room.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Conversations with a 3 Year Old: Not a Good Surprise

There are more mornings than I'd like to admit we choose sleep over getting up early and making sure Mason has breakfast before we leave for school.  On those (ahem) mornings, I stop at McD's and get a large coffee for me and an egg Mcmuffin for the little man.

One morning DH suggested that Mason try a Bacon 'n Egg McMuffin and he was SO excited.  I can't explain how 3 year olds seem to delight in anything and everything.  It's so refreshing and one of the many things I love about this age, and on this particular morning he wanted to make sure I ordered it properly. 

We pull up to the drive-through window:
Me: Hi I'd like to order a large coffee double double and a Bacon 'n Egg McMuffin please
Mason (in the background): Bacon McMuffin Mommy!
Me:  Yes, sweetie that's what I ordered

As we move forward to the 1st window to pay:
Mason:  Mommy, did you order a Bacon Mc Muffin? I want a Bacon one.... a BACON one!
Me:  Yes honey I did don't you worry

We pay and I go to the 2nd window to pick up the order:
McD lady: Be careful the muffin is hot
Me: Ok, thank you!

We pull away, I put my coffee in the cup holder and pass the bag back to Mason then turn onto the road to head to school.  He opens the bag:
Mason: Mommy, it's a muffin
Me: Yes, a Bacon 'n Egg McMuffin like you wanted
Mason: NO!  Mommy, it's blueberry!
Me:  What?  Pass me the bag.
Mason (very seriously from the back seat): This is NOT a good surprise.

Stifling my laughter, we turned around immediately and went back to make the trade.  I laughed all the way to school!  I just adore him.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

(Re)decorating the kids rooms: Avery's room

We moved into our house in January of 2010 and have done very little decorating other than paint.  But painting was necessary because the previous owners, for some reason, thought it was a good idea to paint the ceilings the same colour as the walls in every room.  Don't get me wrong, I've seen painted ceilings and they can look beautiful, but ours did NOT fall into that category because every room was a different colour (hunter green, maroon, navy blue, fairy purple, Pepto Bismol-ey taupe) and they'd completed the 'look' with carpet to match.  Avery's room was the exception upstairs with a light coloured wood laminate floor.  I'm not sure why her room alone had laminate when all the rest were carpeted, but hers was the fairy purple room so I'm not sure if there was much reason in any of their rhymes.

Avery's room still isn't finished, I need to sew a slip cover for her chair, I would eventually like to re-paint her bookshelf and there are odds and ends to add, but it's much better than how it looked at the beginning of December.

Before Avery was born I found this fabric at Designer Fabrics on Queen St. W in Toronto.  I fell in love with the sweet nursery rhyme feel of the graphics, the neutral background and pops of colour and it became the foundation of the design in her room. 
Sorry for the wrinkles!  This is her crib blanket and she uses it every night.
I used the fabric to sew her crib (set bumper pads, blanket & cushions) and I've tried to mimic the neutral background and pops of colour throughout the room while keeping the nursery rhyme theme without being too literal about it.

You'll probably be surprised at where I've sourced many of the pieces.  Over the holidays my brother described me as very 'thrifty', which is true.  I'm not too proud to buy second hand.  I know how hard DH works for the lifestyle we have and I try to honour his hard work by not wasting money if I can find great (less expensive) options.

Here's a walk around her room...
When you first enter, there's a built-in & reading nook.  A comfortable chair with a place to put up my feet was a must for this space, when Avery was born I spent a ton of time feeding and holding her in her bedroom.  Now we read stories here every night before bed.  I bought this chair on Craigslist for around $30 and once it has a slipcover its clean lines will be the first thing I see rather than the colour. 
Our comfy reading chair that needs a slipcover!
I love the olive coloured duck & cat ceramic figures beside the chair and have fought to keep them in the room - DH doesn't like them much!  The mirror was $10 at Goodwill and the side table & lamp are from Homesense.

One of my best friends bought the beautiful cream piggy bank for Mason when he was born but it looks much better in Avery's room. The fish picture was painted by my Aunt who's an incredibly talented artist and happens to be a perfect match for the green in this room. I love the whimsical vintage bunny driving the carrot race car that I bought on Ebay. He looks like he stepped out of a Wind in the Willows chapter.

You might see glimpses of the chandelier. I bought it on Craigslist and spray painted it the sunny yellow colour that's in the fabric. There's a beautiful store downtown where I'd driven past yellow chandeliers and fell in love with them and jumped at the chance to include one in this room. It makes me happy every time I look at it!

I haven't done much to the space around Avery's crib.  The vinyl tree (bought on Ebay) was pretty much the only decorating I did other than the crib set before she was born.  I'm hesitant to add anything that she could reach and pull down right now.

The biggest change is in the corner opposite her crib.  I found the bookshelf on the curb (yes, I bring trash home sometimes to DH's chagrin!) and loved the shape and size.  I knew it be perfect in this space.  I think I want to paint it white or cream, but for the time being it still works in the honey finish.

The little rocking chair was left behind in the house when we moved in.  It used to be red, but a litle spray paint made it fit right in!  The mirror was on drastic clearance at Homesense, marked down to $15 from the original price of $150.  It was so perfect for my vision of the room that I couldn't believe I'd stumbled upon it at such a ridiculous price.  The bird cage I found at Goodwill, the tree shaped candle holder is from Value Village & the owl is from Dollarama and spray painted a glossy antique white.

The wall shelves are from Goodwill as well.  The 'Avery' art was created by my uber-talented cousin and given as a 1st birthday present.  The clock doesn't work (boo) but I found it at Value Village the same day I found the beautiful vintage poetry books stacked under the mouse on the shelf below, and loved it because it reminded me of the pocket watch the rabbit carried in Alice in Wonderland.  It's perpetually 8 o'clock in Avery's room but I don't care!
I can't describe how peaceful and serene it feels sitting in this room.  Maybe it's because the clock makes it feel like time stands still!   I know it needs some tweaking and a little more work to make it perfect, but I love it.

- Jacs

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Mason's class Christmas Party

We enrolled Mason in a nursery school last fall after he became best friends with a little boy who was going there.  Turns out it was the best decision because he's in a class of 8 little 3 year old boys with a wonderful teacher.  He loves going to school and seeing all his friends and it has created in him an amazing sense of independence, accomplishment and has planted the seed for the love of learning.

As the holidays were approaching we decided to host a class Christmas party at our house (what better time than when it's such a small class!) and invited his friends and their families.

Fuelled by ideas I'd come across on Pinterest, I think it may be one of the best parties to date.  I was also very lucky to find out that one of our new employees was a recent graduate from a college photography program and she came to capture the afternoon.  All the pictures that follow are the ones she took.  Many thanks to Amanda! (check out her blog Amanda Manners Photography)

Friday, 6 January 2012

One Bite at a Time: how to simplify & organize your everyday

I was browsing through Pinterest the other day and stumbled upon a healthy living site that recommended an e-book called One Bite At A Time.  It touted the book as a great resource for simplifying and organising your life and at only $4.00 (after entering the HAPPYNEWYEAR promo code), I thought it might be a good way to get started on my New Year's Goal.

This may have been one the best $4.00 I've ever spent.  I've read the first 25 pages and I love the way the book is laid out as a series of projects (52 in total) as well as its straightforward advice.  It feels like it was written just for me because it addresses so many areas that I want to improve and the format is perfect for my task-based personality (it has checklists!).

Thursday, 5 January 2012

My Pinterest obsession

I love Pinterest.  It's true.  For the first two weeks after I got my invitation I probably spent 4-6 hours a day on the site.  It was so exciting to see a community of women (although it isn't only for women) accumulating beautiful ideas, projects, and above all else, inspiration on one site.

For anyone who hasn't heard of or understand what Pinterest is, it's a place where you create virtual clipboards that categorise information by topic (ie. fashion, diy projects, recipes etc.).  So when you come across something amazing online, like your next DIY project or a fabulous workout routine, you pin it!  For me, it allowed me to clear out my bookmarked pages and put all the information I had accumulated into a place that made it easier to catalogue and then find the wonderful things that I ran across online.  Each PIN on your clipboard is a link to the site you found with a picture (from the original site) that gives you a visual reminder of what you pinned to a specific board, which is SO much better than the descriptions I used to type into my bookmarks!

This is my collection of boards on Pinterest.  I have 15 boards.  The ones shown are Design, I want to do that!, love it, Food, Organization, Style.   Each thumbnail is something I've pinned onto the different boards and links back to the site where it came from.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Mason's 3rd Superhero Birthday

Better late than never... right?!  We celebrated Mason's 3rd birthday last September and I loved every part of it.

I sent out a save the date via email and had every intention of making the actual invitations.

Unfortunately, time wasn't on my side and to stay sane I sent out an emailed invitation instead:

Monday, 2 January 2012

2012 here I come.

I am surrounded by incredibly intelligent, motivated and talented people.  It can be a little daunting at times but mostly it's just inspiring and I find it drives me to be a better person.

Today I came across one of my sister's blog postings on Facebook.  It's about New Year's resolutions and how she would prefer to set goals for herself.  Her goals for the year made me pause and think about the things that I wanted for myself.

2011 proved to be an interesting year with many challenges, the most difficult of which was mourning the loss of my father who passed away unexpectedly near the end of 2010.  It took me over 4 months to not cry into my pillow every night before I went to sleep.  After that, it was another couple months of thinking about him every day and feeling the loss.  Then as the anniversary of his death came soon after Mason's 3rd birthday I fell into a dark time where the very idea that he no longer existed was something that I couldn't comprehend (this was also around the time that my blogging took an unexpected hiatus, my exercising came to a halt and everything other than my family and DH's work simply stopped happening).  In fact, one day I was driving and a man in a truck bore so many physical similarities to my Dad that it took me a couple minutes to stop seeing my father behind the windshield and recognize that it was someone else.  I can't fully explain how odd and difficult a time it was, but I worked very hard to not fall into a deep depression at that point.

I think for the most part of the last year I kept myself busy and focused on my little ones to keep the sadness from consuming my days.  In part this ended up being a blessing but I think it also prolongated the grieving process.

On the flip side, the need to keep myself busy led me to create this blog which opened my eyes to something I love to do.  Create, share, and (hopefully) inspire.

I love that this blog has given my projects a purpose (not that why I was doing things in the first place wasn't pupose enough!) and has motivated me to really delve into my creative self.  It's a part of me that I hadn't given much time to in the last ten years or so and it's nice to have it back.

My goal for this year is simple, to focus on what makes me feel happy with who I am. 

I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a very good year.

Happy New Year!

- Jacs